Book Club: The Last Pearl

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Author: Leah Fleming
ISBN: 978-1-4711-4135-5
RRP: $32.99

Lucky for me I picked this book up on a Saturday, and we went for a drive as a family (and I read) and then we came home and I had nothing too pressing that HAD to be done so I read for a bit, then I did dinner and then I read some more….. and missed my bedtime but finished the book. If only I could have had a similar day today… but never mind, it was productive.

Leah Fleming is an author I was unfamiliar with before The Last Pearl but she has quite the back catalogue, perhaps something I need to look into when I have some time.

The Last Pearl is set in the last quarter of the 19th Century, beginning in both York and Perthshire before an oceanic crossing to America.

Fleming weaves the stories of the wealthy beautifully with those of the poor and some of our leading characters have the opportunity to live at both ends of the scale.

Greta Costello is a happy and hardworking girl who is always thinking of her family and trying to better their situation. They haven’t always been poor but when her father died young the family fell of hard times. Greta will do all that she can to help her mother support them, and her two younger siblings, as long as she can keep her reputation. Greta works in the market on the weekends, helps her mother with laundry and helps out an older widowed jeweler with some cooking and cleaning.

Her dedication pays off and the jeweler starts teaching her a little about repairs and pearls, skills that will help her throughout her future because there will always be work for a good pearl stringer. Greta knows enough to know that life doesn’t always run smooth so when her employment with the jeweler is cut short she is determined to find something new, away from the laundry.

Greta was a character that I loved, she was dedicated, hard working and determined to find a better life for her family. She recognised all her mum did for them and wanted to change their circumstances to make her life easier. In most of her decisions she put the needs of her family first, a sacrifice which she didn’t realise the depth of at the time.

Jem Baillie is a hardworker in Perthshire with his parents. He and his dad work in forestry and fish for pearls. The last pearl they found together was a beauty, a Queen of pearls, and one that Sam Baillie wanted no-one to find out about, not even his wife. He wants to put it aside for Jem’s education so that he can make something better of himself but a shifty pearl dealer manages to swindle it and Jem vows revenge.

The Last Pearl places a lot of emphasis on the importance of family; doing right by the family and respecting your family at every turn. All of the families featured in the book are very different; socially, economically and religiously but they all share deep bonds of love.

The Last Pearl is very much a history lesson about pearls as much as a tale about the characters. We learn a lot about the superstitions surrounding them along with their history. It is clear to me that Fleming has done her homework on pearls and managed to tie it all together with relevance to the story. I had never given much though to pearls really but this look at the hows, the whys and the quality was fascinating.

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There were characters I loved and characters I loathed. Fleming has written a great book with secret motivations and everyone having their reasons for what they do, and most of those were quite noble but the ones that weren’t were abominable. If it was a reaction she was after I sure had one.

All of the characters are well rounded, they are multi faceted and there is more to them than what you first see and I love that about the character development. Eben was a scoundrel, of that there was never any doubt, and the further in we got the more I despised him. Over time we discovered a little more about his past and that helped explain some of his quirks but it didn’t make me sympathetic to him as is sometimes the case.

Greta certainly gained my sympathies, she only ever chose what she thought was best for her family; always putting what she might like last. Leading her to America where she had to settle in a strange place on her own without a single ally. Her strength and initiative saw her right and no matter what obstacles arose to trip her Greta managed to fight her way back up and gain strength through the hardships.

In all The Last Pearl was a fascinating and exciting journey into the past, spanning decades and continents, and allowing us a glimpse into a past I would never have imagined.

The Last Pearl is available now through Simon & Schuster, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld and where all good books are sold.

Leah can be followed on Facebook, her Website

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 30 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Last Pearl so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

30 thoughts on “Book Club: The Last Pearl

  1. Argh! Some of these characters I could throttle! I know an interesting way to start a book review but an honest one! Over the book I developed a very strong love/hate relationship with some and others, well I just couldnt get enough of!

    This is an amazing story of how families can rise above tragedy and achieve amazing things that they never thought they could or should. I felt a real connection to Greta (a child who loses her father) as this was something that happened to me and only in my adult years do I truly understand the sacrifices my mother made, and how hard she worked to make things happen. Greta, understands that to be successful she can not wait for things to happen but is open to pursuing opportunities when they come (or are created).

    Hard work and determination are her friends and despite the sacrifices she makes her focus is always to do the best for her family.

    Great read and one worthy of reading again and again.

  2. Let me start by saying, I read this book in two nights! It is not a short book, but a gripping one.

    The Last Pearl is a beautifully written and complex story about living life and trying to improve your fortunes for both yourself and your family. The books central characters have strong moral compass’ and I believe a strong desire to do the right thing by their families – often to their own detriment.

    I pride myself on being able to predict plot twists (it’s a talent) but there were many surprises that I am sure most would not pick. Some of the characters are very relatable, others are downright horrid.

    The story is set in a time that is very different from my own, but I would say the constant struggles of family loyalty remains relevant.

    I would highly recommend The Last Pearl.

  3. The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming is set in the late 1800’s, and spans for almost 20 years throughout its tale.
    One of the main characters is Greta Costello, a young woman with a lot of determination and courage, who uses these qualities to help her family survive after her father’s death. We see the family struggle financially, and Greta does all she can to overcome the difficulties they face. Throughout the book, as the years pass, we see these qualities of determination and courage shine through in Greta over and over again.
    We are also introduced to another main character, Jem Baillie, who helps his father fish out a very rare pearl from a river in Scotland. Without giving too much away, this pearl is to have a huge importance in this saga, right til the very end.
    There are a lot of characters in the book, and the one I despised was Eben. He was pure evil!!
    Greta’s mum, the old jeweller Saul Abrahams, and Greta’s sister Kitty, were some of my favourite characters. They were very supportive of Greta’s decisions, and I really admired them for that.
    This book really resonated with me as it focuses a lot on the importance of family, and the loyalties that lie within each family.
    I could definitely tell that Leah has researched the history of pearls very thoroughly, and I found that it was very interesting to read about. One of the joys of reading is being educated on subjects that I usually wouldn’t necessarily know much about. In this instance, it was learning about the history of pearls.
    I really enjoyed this book. The ending felt a little rushed for me, but it was still a nice ending. I would gladly recommend this book.
    Thanks Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  4. The Last Pearl is a very well written book.
    Family loyalty and is the main story of this book with the Greta the main character going to all lengths to ensure her family is safe and secure.
    Not everything goes her way as we find as the story progresses through time and spans continents.
    There is love, tragedy and revenge that will enthral you and make this book so easy to read.
    Leah Fleming has done her research into the history and myths of pearls and this shows through.
    I enjoyed the ending and can see there is room for a sequel which I would certainly be looking out for.

  5. I really enjoyed The Last Pearl.
    It was set in Scotland, England and America in the late 1800’s. The pearling industry was a common theme between all places.
    This was a story of Greta who was from a poorer area and wanted more for her family. The way this happened was a blessing and then a curse. It affected her life in so many ways and had her life intersecting with that of Jem, in a similar position with a similar tale of trying to better his life.
    It was a gripping tale of the pearling industry and how times were also changing.
    I really admired Greta and her attitude and ability to change with her life circumstances. Her family were a wonderful support and the fringe characters really came to life for me.
    I took a lot from this book and would highly recommend it.

  6. Love my pearls so couldn’t wait to start reading The Last Pearl and it didn’t disappoint.
    It is a wonderful story about a perfect rare pearl and the lives of Jem Baillie a lad from Scotland whose father fished for pearls; Greta Costello, a poor girl struggling in life with her mother, sister and brother in York and Eben Slinger a pearl dealer who sets up his shop in York.
    Jem returns home from work one day to hear his mother tell him that she has sold the pearls that she found among her dead husbands belongings to a cheating pearl dealer. The one perfect pearl was ‘THE ONE’ his father had found before he died and was to be Jem’s inheritance. Jem has vowed to find the cheat that ‘stole’ his perfect pearl.
    Greta is living with her family in poor conditions and work is difficult to find. She is eventually lucky enough to find work with Saul Abrahams in his jewellery shop and her eye for detail and love of pearls sees her become an apprentice pearl stringer. She is indebted to Saul for giving her hope but sadly he leaves her life.
    Eben then enters Greta’s life after he has established the Pearl Emporium in York and Greta can’t believe her luck in securing yet another position with pearls.

    The three lives become entwined across years and continents. It is a story of hope, loss, revenge and the courage of a young woman.
    The characters are well developed and we can’t help feeling for Greta and the hardships she goes through.
    A great read and a very interesting look at the pearl industry.

  7. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for choosing me to read The Last Pearl and thank you to Leah Fleming for writing such a superb novel. Right from the start The Last Pearl drew me in and enthralled me. It was written so well, it ebbed and flowed, became my life for such a short time and led me on a fine journey.

    I only grew to like Pearls now I am in my mid forties so it was interesting for me to learn so much about them, get a different perspective on their worth to people and how they create characters such as Eben. Leah has a wonderful talent for creating characters and bringing them to life. I also thought i knew what would end up being the finale but it didnt, then it did (without giving too much away) but I feel the ending was bit lack lustre, not the usual feel for the rest of the novel and a little bit rushed but that in no way takes from the book overall. One I will look forward to picking up again when I have the need to read on a cold wintery weekend.

    May you write many more novels Leah Fleming!

  8. Really enjoyed this book, not just the way Leah seamlessly went from one character to another but it was interesting to get a glimpse of the background of both pearling and the retail side after. Three different lives with so many ways they could go.

    Greta builds up a shell around herself, just like a pearl and I found myself waiting for her true beauty to shine, she made some hard decisions especially to marry for security but no one could blame her. Greta’s story is so much like her admired pearls starting for nothing building up layers and becoming in the end a wondrous pearl

    Typical of Leah’s writing possibly a rushed ending but would recommend it as a easy reading weekend project snuggled up in front of the fire.

    Again thanks for the opportunity to review

  9. I just knew I would thoroughly enjoy this very well written book and I was right. The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming is a wonderful story which embraces the great strength in a young woman whom has endured much loss and heartache in her life.

    Greta is that of a very interesting character that you will come to admire with a mind that is witty but yet somewhat hardened. She encounters a pearl dealer who and had opened his own Pearl Emporium in York where Greta finds work. Is this a new brighter beginning of a life for her? After what Greta had been through in life who would knew what life had in store for her and what decisions she would make along with paths she would take.
    The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming is a truly wonderful story of hardship along with the positive and negative changes that can come.

    This story takes you on a real journey giving you a fantastic insight into the history of the pearling industry and the reality that can come along with it.
    I can absolutely say this book left me with a great lasting impression followed by many lasting thoughts. I can certainly recommend you to take the time to read “The Last Pearl” by Leah Fleming.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to review this absolutely terrific book.

  10. The Last Pearl was a wonderful book once I started to read was hard to put down,
    Greta is an amazing woman she faces many difficulties but overcomes them thought her strength and determination
    This book has all the elements love hate sadness and tragerdy
    The history of the pearling industry was very interesting to myself
    The ending was not at all what I expected
    Thanks for allowing me to read

  11. Others have said it and I will say it too – this book was really hard to put down and that’s tricky when you have 3 young children and a job! I enjoyed it so much and just wanted to know what was going to happen next. What a fascinating book! It’s a book about doing anything to make your family feel safe and secure and being loyal, loving and persisting. It reminded me of Anne of Green Gables (probably just from the time period and the red hair!) and I loved reading those as I was growing up.

    I loved some of the characters and others I cheered at their downfalls. I know that there really are people out there who have to make decisions like that for their own sakes and the sakes of their families and I really admire Greta and anyone else who has to do that type of thing.

    The ending wasn’t predictable either and not at all what I was expecting to happen, but it was a good ending.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for another great book to review >:o)

  12. “The Last Pearl” had all the ingredients of a good novel, but failed to engage me strongly. I just didn’t connect with Greta, and as a result the novel was interesting and entertaining, but not compelling.

    Greta Costello and her family live in the back streets of York. Although respectable, they have fallen on hard times since the death of her father. Greta is desperate to improve their situation, and sees a respectable and reasonably well paying job as the key to that. Eventually an old jeweller offers her the chance to train as a pearl stringer, an opportunity which will change her life in ways both good and bad, and keep her entwined with the pearl industry for years.

    At the same time in Scotland, Jem Baillie and his father are fishing for pearls. When they find a rare and spectacular pearl, it seems that Jem’s future is assured. When it is stolen, and the promise of an education is torn from him, Jem vows revenge.

    I had not realised that the pearl industry was so prominent in either Scotland or America; many of the carefully researched details that form the background to this novel were very interesting. Fleming incorporates them in the narrative in a very natural way, so that you don’t feel you’re being handed wodges of information.

    As I said, I didn’t really connect with Greta. In some ways she wasn’t strongly drawn; I wasn’t convinced she’d stay by a man who was failing her so badly (there would have been strong societal norms, but these weren’t really touched on), and although we were told of the changes in her emotional state over the years, I didn’t feel we were really shown or involved in them.

    However, other readers may find Greta more convincing. This novel was well written and interesting, and an enjoyable piece of entertainment. I didn’t find it compelling, and so it was easy to put it down and do something else. Apart from the fact I found it hard to engage with Greta, this novel has no obvious flaws; as a result, readers who find Greta more appealing may also find the novel overall has a stronger pull for them.

  13. What a beautiful book Leah Fleming’s “The Last Pearl” is. It appealed from the striking and excellently representative cover to the last sentence. It is a story of love, loss, promise, revenge and fulfilment, spanning generations and continents bound together by pearls.
    I loved the way opposing superstitions and assumptions regarding pearls influenced so many actions. Saul Abrahams, the lovely, gentle, man who employed Greta and taught her to string pearls believed that pearls were a “gift of nature, the tears of the Gods.” Others believed pearls were unlucky and should be shunned, especially as gifts for engagements and weddings.

    The story flows beautifully and gently although it is quite violent in parts. Although it is in parts predictable, the way the story is told makes it completely believable. I loved the way Leah Fleming writes, keeping the story flowing and the reader engaged. This is my first Leah Fleming novel – it will definitely not be my last.

    Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for introducing me to another excellent author in Leah Fleming and a truly wonderful novel.

  14. Congratulations to Leah Fleming for writing an enthralling book “The Last Pearl ” about love. Love for family, friends and pearls. I really enjoyed reading this book and was caught up in the romance, brutality, hate, and the never ending desire for pearls.
    “The Queenie” was the main character in the book, a pearl that bought people together, pulled them apart, made some lives miserable, caused passion, grief, love, desire, hate, revenge and justice.
    The book is easy to read, flowing from one character to another with ease, I didn’t find it predictable in any way.
    I am not a slow reader, I like to take my time to absorb the story line and characters, to picture them and use my imagination to bring them to life. Leah has done this for me bring each character, (whether they are like-able or not) alive on the page.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace, and Simon and Schuster for giving me the opportunity to get lost in such a wonderful read.

  15. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read The Last Pearl. I had not heard of the author before and was pleasantly surprised at how well written this book is.

    It is a sweeping family saga spanning almost 30 years and two continents. It tells the story of Jemm Bailey and Greta Costello who lived in a small town called York . Jemm’s father was a pearl fisher and tought his son how to look for and judge pearls. One day his father finds the Queen of pearls and says “this pearl will pay for your education”. Coming from a poor background this was like a pot of god for the family. However Jemm’s mother is tricked into selling this pearl to a rogue pearl dealer for a meagre amount of money after Jemm’s father passes away. Jemm is determined to find this dealer and recover his prize pearl.

    Greta is only young but is fortunate enough to find work helping in a jewellery store that is owned by an elderly Jewish man. He is kind and teaches her all about pearls, how to grade them and string them. After his death she is lucky enough to find employment at another jewellery store owned by Eben Slinger. Little does she know that he is the rogue pearl dealer who robbed Jemm’s mother of the Queen pearl.

    Their lives cross over during the book, and their stories kept me interested the whole way through. You learn a bit about how pearls are farmed as well which was interesting.

    This book will appeal to readers of Historical Fiction and Family Sagas, I really enjoyed it and will seek out tthis author’s other books in due course.

  16. I really enjoyed The Last Pearl and Leah Fleming moves easily from character to character, and from country to country. The build up of development of each character and those around them is gripping, and the historical aspect of this novel is well covered. Those were very hard times for poor people. Greta showed so much courage and is to be admired. I liked when the romance was introduced.
    A really interesting look at pearls and trading in those days.
    Overall this book was great and i read it very quickly.

  17. A pearl can be an interesting symbol. Some people are superstitious and think it brings bad luck if worn at certain moments. And at the very least in different levels of light this thing can shine and change colour in front of the naked eye. In Leah Fleming’s novel, The Last Pearl we are presented with some characters that change colours like pearls in that they are like real, multi-facetted gems in some instances while others bring bad luck and sadness to the people around them.

    Fleming has written numerous books including The Captain’s Daughter and The Girl under the Olive Tree. Her latest novel is a well-researched one that is set in the 19th century and takes in stories from Scotland, York and Iowa over a period of around twenty years. It follows three main characters who are motivated by a desire to better themselves, sometimes with good intentions (like doing relatives proud or supporting the family) and others with evil ones (as they’re motivated by pure greed and lust).

    The story begins with a young, Scottish lad called Jem Baillie. His father is a pearl fisherman and the two discover a large, exquisite pearl they name, “Queenie.” This rock is to be set aside so that one day it will pay for Jem’s education. But Jem’s father falls ill and passes away and his mother makes the mistake of selling the pearl for a pittance to a rogue buyer. Jem is mad and vows revenge.

    In York Greta Costello had lived a comfortable life until her father passes away. She takes on different jobs, working at a Quaker household and with a local jeweller who teaches her the art of pearl stringing. These jobs are abruptly cut short and the naïve Costello is faced with a difficult decision that is not dissimilar to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. Costello must decide whether she should marry the wealthy Eben Slinger in order to secure comfort for herself and her family or whether she would wait for a man that truly loves her. The choice she ultimately makes has long-standing ramifications because things are not as rosy as they initially seem.

    The Last Pearl is a beautiful and delightful gem of a book. It’s a complex slice of historical fiction where different stories are woven together to produce a dense family drama. This novel tackles the themes of love, loyalty, greed, hatred and loss. Some characters will make you laugh and love them while others will make you want to cry, and then there are some still that will make you want to hit them in anger and frustration. This book is a rare, emotional one that shakes you out of inertia and causes you to feel just as the characters do in a most stark and visceral manner. Brilliant.

  18. When I first started reading The Last Pearl I found it hard to get straight into, but after a few chapters I was hooked. The novel is set in Scotland, England and America in the late 1800’s .

    Greta Costello lived in York with her mother Sadie, Sister Kitty and brother Tom when their father passed away life changed. Her mother took in laundry, and Greta found work with Saul Abrahams in his jewelry shop and he thought she showed potential and set to teaching her to be a pearl stringer. When Saul passed away she then looked for another position and came across the wealthy businessman Eben Slinger who has his own pearl business from here her life takes on many highs and lows.

    Jem Baille lived in Scotland and when his father passed away he left a pearl, the last pearl he had discovered and it was to be Jem’s inheritance, they had named it Queenie. When Jem returned home from work one day his mother told him of her fortune by finding the pearl in her deceased husbands possessions and had sold it to a dealer who turned out to be a rogue by not paying its full value, Jem vowed revenge no matter how long it takes him.

    The story is a wonderful tale of family, hope, mistreatment, revenge and eventually love. Author Leah Fleming has shown through the novel that she researched her topic as she took us on a journey and history lesson on the pearl industry. There were characters that I didn’t really like and then there were those that I really loved especially Greta with how she really showed us how she loved and cared for her family.

    I would highly recommend the novel to everyone to read. I would like to thank Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  19. The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming is based around 2 main characters, Greta who originates from York and Jem from Scotland. They are both very likeable and this helped keep me turning the pages to find out what happens to them.
    Greta lives for her family and will go to great lengths to support and honour them. Hers is a tale of sadness but of triumph and happiness as well. She is definitely a women born before her time and it is incredible how she endures all that is thrown at her.
    Jem also has a sad beginning but works hard to gain a good reputation and build a life out of nothing. His is also a story of revenge and it’s enthralling to see how this pans out.
    The characters were mostly well described however, I would have loved to know more about the relationship Greta had with Kitty and Edmund. These 2 characters I felt were a little glossed over and I also found the relationship between Jem and Effie was not enough for my curious self so was left a little wanting there.
    I adore reading books that are based in the past and how things were done in the ‘old days’ especially the different sides/versions of poor families to those of wealthy families so this book was all that. The description of the different areas and locations was thoughtful and I could picture them clearly as I read.
    I found the Last Pearl to be a lovely story that was easy to read and had me guessing until the end. Two thumbs up!
    Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book.

  20. I love Pearl’s and made sure that when each one of my daughters turn/turned 21 they were given a string of Pearl’s. Pearl’s became very important to me when my Gran passed away and it was discovered that the three strings of Pearl’s she had promised me had gone missing. I had planned for one string each to be given to my daughters. Hence me purchasing a string each on my own.

    The Last Pearl delighted me from the aspect that it educated me on these wonderful gems that I love so much.
    I found that one of the main characters was one that I really felt a kinship with. Greta tends to live her life by putting others needs before her own which is a very noble thing to do but I think those that do that one day stop and see that all the things that they really wanted from life are being sidelined and forgotten in this grand quest to try and perfect everyone elses lives.
    I connect strongly to the family connections. Without family we are lost and thats something that I am proud that I have been able to teach my daughters. This book shows those important and strong family connections.
    This beautiful story will take you through many emotions while it educates and keeps you guessing. A wonderful Winter read.

  21. What a fantastic book! The one thing that never changed over time is what we can overcome in order to keep our family’s together. Love of family is the main characters drive to work had and hold them all together with some twists you just don’t see coming! The perfect way to spend a winters day by the fire! Go out and get a copy today!!

  22. The Last Pearl is written with characters who you really believe would live the way they have. Struggling to make ends meet so the eldest daughter does what she thinks is best for her family by marrying not for love and the story evolves credibility from there. Hardship, death, living hard against the odds. Men who want what they cannot have and destroy those in their way. Making a living out of Pearls is the only life they know now and is it the right life? A gripping story, well written, believable and with strong characters. A book to share, recommend and read again. Thank you Leah Flemming for writing the story for one to read and enjoy.

  23. The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming is an absolute must read.
    I started this book and found it very hard to put down late that night but finished it the next day.
    The characters are all very believable and engaging.
    Very family based , the story being centred around the character’s of Greta and Jem , both strong and likeable characters who will have you immersed in the stories of their lives immediately.
    The book spans the countries of Scotland , England and America starting in the early 19th century.
    I find reading about how different families of different means lived in this era and if you do as well this is a book for you.
    A tale of working hard for your quality of life and the hardship and joys that this can bring The Last Pearl is a wonderful read that I will be recommending to friends and family .
    Thankyou Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.

  24. We first meet one of the main characters of the book, Jem as a young man, fishing for pearls with his father, and finding the perfect pearl, who they call Queenie. As the title suggests, at the end of the day this book is about Queenie. However as the story progresses and you become engaged with the characters “Queenie” while still the underlying thread, ceases to be the focus of the book.

    The other main character is Greta. When we first meet her she is a teenager, living with her mum and younger siblings, Kitty and Tom. Despite, or because of, her desire to see her family out of the squalor of Walmgate York, where they have been forced to live due to her father’s untimely death, Greta determines that she needs to use her hands to help raise the family out of the circumstances in which they find themselves. One thing on which she is clear is she will not paint her face and go out on the town on Friday night when the men have their pay packets as some of her school friends do.

    Greta loves to look in the jewelry shop windows at the beautiful pearls, and when old Saul Abraham the watchmaker offers to teach her how to string beads she thinks all her dreams have come true. Sadly things don’t work out for Greta, however she believes her luck has again changed when she meets Ebenezer Slinger (Eben) the jeweler.

    The reader however has met Eben before, a most unpleasant character, the levels to which he will stoop becoming revealed as the tale progresses.

    During the course of the book we learn much about the pearl industry, both in Scotland and the Mississippi, how to tell real from fake, and the superstitions associated with them. We also get an insight into life in the late 19th century in Scotland, England and America, class structure, religious differences and the perceived place of men and women in society.

    Both Jem and Greta are strongly focused on their respective families, at times to the detriment of their own happiness, but at all times they remain engaging and likable characters (although I confess to wanting to give Greta a slap on a couple of occasions for decisions she made!).

    An engaging and well written book that is well worth a read. Thank you Beauty and Lace giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

  25. I really enjoyed reading Leah Fleming’s The Last Pearl. It is a grand and sweeping narrative tale encompassing late 1800’s Scotland, England and America. Central themes of love and loss, family, class and convention, the haves and have-nots are a fascinating glimpse into a world of yesteryear. I especially enjoyed learning about the pearl industry of which I previously knew nothing.

    Although to my knowledge not involved in the pearl industry, ancestors of mine live in Scotland and England during this time and so I found myself imagining them amongst the community in Scotland and York.

    A story with twists and turns and so many hurdles for Greta to overcome. I was so glad she came around at the end and I found the ending a fitting conclusion.

    Thanks so much Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this gorgeous book, and congratulations to Leah Fleming on a wonderful novel. A refreshing change from my usual modern fiction genre, I will certainly recommend this book to friends and family.

  26. I thoroughly enjoyed this new novel by Leah Fleming. It’s what one would refer to as an epic tale, that spans several generations as well as continents. It is set in Scotland, England and America in the late 1800’s. It’s a beautiful story and I love the way the author, Leah Fleming, manages to expertly weave the different characters’ stories together.
    The topics covered include, desire, happiness, revenge and most importantly, love of family. If you love historical fiction, family saga or simply enjoy a good read , then this book is definitely or you. thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this novel. Now I’m looking forward to reading Leah Fleming’s other books.

  27. I really enjoyed this book! I don’t often enough read books that are set in the past like this, as sometimes the language gets a bit much or is so thick that it can’t be understood, but this flowed and was easy to understand and fall in love with. It wasn’t full of old language, but just enough to remind you where you were.
    The story is heavily based on families and their struggles of the time and of course the pearl industry – a very different thing to read about as I had never thought about it or learnt about it before!
    I really enjoyed this book and will be sure to be on the look out for more by Leah Fleming!
    Thank you for the opportunity to read this!

  28. Wow ! I loved this book written by Leah Fleming.

    It”s a sad story about one woman’s fight for love and survival. It is surprising that the themes in this story intertwine with many incidents that happen now days also.

    Greta the main character in this book is portrayed as the hero in the story, Struggle after struggle she always rises and tries to make a better life for herself. At times i felt sorry for her and everything she had to endure.

    I found that the book had a great story line and i learnt quite a bit about farming pearls.

    Even though many bad things occurred throughout this book , its still a LOVE STORY.

    Well Done Leah Fleming

  29. Couldn’t put it down family drama over two continents spanning a long 30 years. This book kept me interested and going back for more and I read it over a few days. I enjoyed the characters and the settings throughout the book, I could visualise the settings in my head as I was reading. I have also recommended this book to others.

  30. The Last Pearl was the first novel I have read, by Leah Flemming. I could be biased, as I love stories set in the worlds so different from where we are today, but I was truely enthralled by the novel from the first few pages.
    Flemming careful spins together a story of based on polar opposite characters and intertwines their lives. Greta is lovely- determined, kind hearted and selfless she seeks a better life for her family and sister through an accidental lesson learning to string pearls. Similarly Jem is intent on seeking revenge to the one that stole his rare pearl, Queenie, one of the last memories he has of his father and the potential good fortune that was meant to follow from his discovery. Eben is manipulative and has his own agenda. Greedy and out for himself – he is a frustrating man.
    Flemming uses beautiful descriptive language to convey strong imagery of the characters, their personalities and the continents the story features. It was. Page turner from the start and a perfect book to read on a rainy Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch with a cuppa.

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